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Dominique Wilkins on if he could light up today’s defenses: “Yea, pretty much”

Reebok Pump 20th Anniversary

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Former NBA player and Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins attends the Reebok Pump 20th Anniversary at Pop Burger on November 19, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Reebok)

Getty Images for Reebok

Michael Jordan has said it before. He’s not alone, a lot of players who come from the 1980s and 1990s look at today’s NBA defenses where there can be no contact, no hand checks allowed on the permitter, and they drool. They think about they contact they had to fight through, the grabbing and pulling, just to get a contested look, then they look at today’s rules and picture the easy points piling up.

Add Dominique Wilkins to that group.

If you played in this era you could just light it up nightly, Nique?

“Yea, pretty much. It’d be easier to score that’s for sure,” Wilkins told ProBasketballTalk. “It was a great time to be part of basketball.”

Of course, Dominique lit up the defenses he went against, too.

A lot of younger fans think of Wilkins as the guy of the powerful dunks, the guy with the legendary 1988 Dunk Contest battle with Jordan, the Human Highlight Film. But Wilkins could score the rock a lot of ways — he’s a career 24.8 points per game scorer who was far from one dimensional.

“It’s what I tell people all the time, dunking is just a tool for intimidation that I used, it wasn’t really who I was,” Wilkins said. “A lot of times people don’t realize it’s very hard to get over 26,000 points on dunks so I found different ways to score — midrange, on the post, getting to the basket, getting to the free throw line, I had an array of things I used to combat my opponent.”

Wilkins is busy now post-career. He is Vice President of Basketball for the Atlanta Hawks and is more visible to fans as the color commenter on Hawks game broadcasts. For a lot of fans he’s still the face of the Hawks.

This time of year especially, he’s a spokesman for diabetes awareness and maintenance. It’s something he was diagnosed with after his playing days and now has become his cause.

“It was a shock (to be diagnosed with diabetes) but it was a shock that I had to quickly get over because I had to get back to doing some things I used to do,” Wilkins said. “And that’s working out more consistently, and I had to take some things away, and I had to get on medication. It’s that simple. You can’t have one of those components without the other, you have to have all three together to keep you healthy.”

To help people find that balance Wilkins is urging people to go to where they can get help managing the disease. Especially during the holidays when eating healthy is often not on the menu.

“I want to tell people to have fun, enjoy the holiday, eat the foods that you enjoy, just don’t eat so much of it,” Wilkins said. “But after the holiday you’re going to have to get back to doing some things you used to do, and that’s eating healthier, exercising, and making sure you take your medications.”

Wilkins is also pleased with what he sees out of the Hawks right now, who are 18-7 and currently the three seed in the East.

“The team is playing very well,” Wilkins said. “A lot of chemistry, a lot of confidence. Guy’s spirits are very high…

“It’s guys who have been together three, four years now and has built that chemistry,” Wilkins said. “Coach (Mike Budenholzer) has come in there and brought in a few things to enhance the product on the floor so it’s been a nice fit.”

One of the keys to the Hawks fast start (besides a soft schedule early) was the growth of Jeff Teague, who has averaged 16.8 points and 7 assists a game, with an All-Star level PER of 21.2

“Jeff Teague is playing All-Star basketball, him and Paul Millsap,” Wilkins said. “Both guys will be All-Stars this year I think and to their credit it’s from their hard work.”

We’ll see, the point guard spot in the East is stacked (even now with Rajon Rondo adding to the log jam in the West). But the Hawks certainly deserve an All-Star representative.

Something Dominique gave them for years.